The End (to-End) is Nigh!

14186949118_252cc35022_zThe way we consider, design and operate ‘End-to-End’ IT is about to end, or at least going to go through a fundamental change. There are plenty of evidence points; Shadow IT. Analyst organisational restructures. M&A transactions. Converging technologies. Current cost of I&O. The P&L’s of many organisations. New roles emerging in the enterprise such as the CDO – Chief Data Officer…The list goes on. We are all about to witness considerable convergence, or ‘Digitisation’ of our respective worlds.

There is a realisation that the world we operate in has radically changed. Our ultimate end customers and our own staff are now significantly more ‘savvy and demanding’ and the landscape we all operate in is significantly more competitive and ‘real-time’…. But we know this. However, have IT (or more importantly the business supporting and funding IT) reacted accordingly?

Welcome to the digital economy. An economy where cross-silo agility, integration, automation, data, mobility and compliance are key watchwords. An economy where we should revisit core questions like; ‘How are we doing the things we do?’ and perhaps more fundamentally, ‘Why are we doing the things we do?’

In fact one of the big questions IT should be asking is, ‘Does the organisation want IT to build and operate a basic IT platform where its users define competitive advantage from the data / services IT provides, or does the organisation want IT to build and operate a digital IT platform where competitive advantage comes from digital trends, analysis, automation and are real-time. For example, an advanced platform may empower and extend the ability for business units to build workflows and applications to remove tedious and costly manual processes without the involvement of IT, or perhaps IT themselves to ‘see’ trends and plan for eventualities across multiple silo’s of technology or process. Furthermore wouldn’t it be great if IT could effect change in one area and the implications in other areas are all taken care of. Not only joining up the data (which we typically do well), but also the processes, the management and admin.

We are entering a world where we have to dramatically improve 3 areas:

  • Core Service / function of IT – What we do and the way we do it
  • Discovery / Detection and analytics – The ability to process business value data
  • Reaction & Change – The ability to respond in an agile way

So let’s consider how we achieve these goals. First we need to define who we are serving and what or perhaps why we are doing this. Then we should consider where does the raw compute, storage and application stack come from to serve our audience. Finally, we can consider what happens ‘in-between’ the supply and the demand.

 

PART 1. Who, Why & What are we serving?

Let’s start with the ‘What’ – What we ultimately deliver is a trading platform that optimises communication, competitive intelligence and competitive service. Regularly, it is not seen that way, more often than not, IT is seen as the providers of defined or ‘canned’ business services (i.e. mail, ERP, SFA, storage, kit, etc) and the managers of I&O (Infrastructure & Operations). i.e. we are told what the business needs, in short:

  1. Provide XYZ business applications to the BU’s and staff
  2. Provide information/data/reports (not intelligence)
  3. Manage, support and secure all of the above

Change is going to have a massive part to play in ‘What’ we do going forward. In the past, business change was positively ‘glacial’… we lived in an analog world. It took time for information to flow and be processed. Executive leadership, BU’s or staff took time to draw the conclusion that ‘change’ or a response was required… The majority of commercial Change requests come from outside of IT as the ‘intelligence’ was ultimately analogue, or a human connecting the dots between one set of data and another…. Or perhaps worse still, emotional.

This leads nicely onto the ‘Who and Why’. Who we serve can ultimately be divided into 5 categories:

  1. The ultimate end customer
  2. IT itself
  3. Staff
  4. Business Units
  5. Executive

aw diagram - 3

 

Each requires different services, information and tools. All need our security & compliance skills. All could benefit from our domain expertise in process and integrations and ultimately, all could do with ‘real-time’ cross data analysis to make informed ‘digital’ recommendations rather than decisions being made very slowly in the analog modus operandi.

 

  • The ultimate end user wants relevancy and respect
  • IT wants to know if some element of their ‘trading platform’ may be going AMBER and why…
  • Staff want intuitive tools, services and intelligence
  • Business Units want to remove the burdens, costs and improve agility
  • Executive want to see and measure and need value (ratio of investment to return)

The ‘why’ we do / or should do the things required in the new digital economy are fundamentally economic, whether your organization is commercial, government, charity, public or private, we all have bosses. We all have customers. Our role is to provide better services, products and financial performance that are secure and compliant.

 

PART 2. Where is IT coming from?

This has to be broken into three parts. The first is, where do the core applications, compute, storage, etc services come from, the second is where does the end user support for the disparate services come from for the ultimate end user, and third, where does the intelligence and ‘Change / React’ thinking come from.

The first area of ‘where core applications and services’ come from is quite straight forward, as they regularly come from a mix of on premise (physical or virtual), cloud (public and private), outsourced and of course the inevitable shadow IT conundrum.

The Second area of ‘Where does the end user service & support come from’ for the 5 types of customer is regularly a mess, primarily as the systems, processes and data is not joined up. In fact some of the applications and therefore its data do not even reside within IT’s domain.

And therefore, it’s a very similar story is the third area of ‘Where does the Intelligence and ability to Change / React’ reside…Its key to note that we are not talking about where the data or information resides, this is known, but where are the applications that use the data in order to make informed real-time decisions? They do exist in many organizations, but they are sporadic and isolated. Perhaps APM (Application Performance Management) technology is used for one customer type, and a marketing tool used for another customer type. This is an area where the ‘End-To –End’ thinking delivers optimum service, competitive advantage has its greatest effect.

 

PART 3. Joining the end to end dots.

In reality there are three roles for IT.

  1. Providing the core services
  2. Providing a service on those services
  3. Providing real-time and cross platform intelligence

And making all of these intuitive, agile, secure and efficient

Simple….no, but IT is in the most powerful and influential position to design, build and conduct the ‘New IT’ DNA. IT will place an increasingly pivotal role in the organisation, its strategy, its people, its technology platform. New ITOM platforms are going to revolutionise how we architect IT. Its no longer about whether its cloud / Saas or on premise… it’s about End-To-End IT. We will see significant convergence, from APM, PPM, Web CMS through to ITSM / ITAM and Analytics, CRM and AI…

IT is the business. We are now in the business transformation game. Embrace it.

 

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IT Maturity: Chasing rainbows?

ITSM Maturity

It is surprising just how many organisations do NOT monitor their IT maturity. Where are we? Is it going up, or down? In fact an even more basic question is: exactly what is IT Maturity and is it an integer, percentage, score or grade?

It’s difficult to put a finger on what it looks like, and what the final output ‘Score’ is.  It reminds me of the famous book and film ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’…. Where after several years, the Mega computer that was tasked with finding the answer to ‘Life the Universe and Everything’, came up with the answer 42……Thank you – Very helpful.

IT Maturity is less about the answer, but more about the trend

There are many models that can be used from various analyst or consulting firms, and all use the same fundamentals (but scored differently, so don’t compare). I would point out that a lot of this is common sense and a great way to get IT properly connected with the business.

The building blocks centre on your PEOPLE, PROCESSES, TECHNOLOGY and MISSION; more on these foundations later.

However, the fact is, although it might be an interesting way to spend an afternoon, doing an IT maturity benchmark against other organisations (either in your sector or not) isn’t really relevant. There really isn’t an apples-for-apples comparison.  It may be close, but building a maturity model where you can score yourself-against-yourself (over time) will prove significantly more valuable and will be a whole lot easier to realize.

IT Maturity Model

There is no standard maturity model that works really well at outputting a set of actions that will deliver improvement for a particular business – and there never will be. There are too many variables to be considered. An accurate IT maturity assessment model would be far too complex and impractical – to build, or to use.

At the other end of the spectrum, too basic and irrelevant. Maturity models are either too loose (and have too few inputs to be useful), or they are too tight and require a whole heap of numbers you just don’t have to hand. Even the most simple of questions, like “do you have a service catalogue?” are rarely simple in the real world. Owning a service catalogue doesn’t indicate what it does or the value it delivers. Is it integrated with a service request system to manage execution, or is it just a front-end for the service desk? Are all of your services listed, or just some? IT is complex by nature and each question tends to spark a dozen deeper questions.

So, if general IT maturity models and assessments are questionable, how should you evaluate your own IT maturity? It turns out that the models that are out there can be of some use – as a starting point for your own custom maturity model. A model that can help you steer your own vision of IT and business harmony. When approached from a critical standpoint, you can get some good ideas on questions you can ask within your own organization to evaluate IT maturity in a way that is relevant to your business. When asking introspective questions about the status quo, things tend to fall into a natural path. When you boil it down, it can hardly fail to fall into the trusty old improvement model.

If you’re asking “What is our IT maturity level?” you’re really asking “Where are we now?” If you’re asking “What does the next level look like?” you’re actually asking “Where do we want to get to?” The whole thing starts to look suspiciously like an improvement roadmap.

The Glue

It occurs to me that the Service Management methodologies and tools play a critical role in the IT Maturity journey. The foundations of PEOPLE, PROCESSES, TECHNOLOGY AND MISSION all (or should) touch this common platform. ITSM could be the conductor of total IT maturity. Often relegated to the role of IT Help Desk, in fact you probably already have the tool that could transform your business, life and career.

ITSM pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…..

Utilizing your toolset and ITSM best practices in a business and IT maturity context can transform IT, the business and the ability to compete and react to business challenges.

Mission

What type of IT and business does the organization want?

What is the role of IT in the organization? Is it merely to provide compute, network and  applications to the business in a secure and compliant fashion, or perhaps, IT is the business (or needs to be the business, if your business for example is in payroll printing systems, but the vision is to become on e-billing and Payroll Company).

In order to build your own custom maturity model/roadmap, you really need a good understanding of the business KPIs and what factors influence them (both up and down). From this, you should be able to map out the IT capabilities that are most influential on those KPIs. When put in this context – one that is highly relevant to your own business – the concept of IT maturity is considerably more valuable. When you can say to the business “We are here…and this is what it means to the business. We want to get here…and this is what it will mean to the business” and they agree, then you know you’re heading in the right direction.

So Mission needs to define key business metrics, Governance, financial, planning, supply & sourcing.

People

Based on the mission, do we have the right people and skills?

This should score key skills and the quantity required (capacity to do the job), training, culture, organizational alignment and people management. Empowerment needs to be considered, do we centrally give the tools and services, or do we empower the staff/organizations to build what they need themselves?

Technology

Do we get value, quality, flexibility and interoperability that is secure?

Too often this topic is the sole focus, and typically scores quite well. It’s our heritage and passion, but recent development are clearly challenging sub topics such as Efficiency, Service Quality, Standards and Integration and the overall technology management capabilities. Don’t forget IT maturity does not necessarily provide you with the agility needed to redesign and deliver the services the business wants. In fact many organisations with cumbersome legacy solutions would score highly for IT maturity but have the turning circle of an oil tanker.

Processes

How digitized, efficient, automated and controlled are our processes?

Typically the lowest score in any IT maturity model score. Consider IT process. Consider non-IT process. Consider cross platform process integration. Best practice model alignment, process management and entire process lifecycle and where possible link all process scores to $$$$ metrics (staff cost, stock, license, and in the case of non-IT process, labor gains and efficiency gains)

Finally

I would recommend you build some simple BVD (Business Value dashboards) that link commercial data with IT data for your exec teams to see just how well IT is doing, improving and delivering real value to the business.

Oh look…. It’s raining and the suns out…..

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"A new way of thinking is required for ITSM" says Andy White (Video)

This interview was filmed at the Pink Elephant Conference and features Andy White, General Manager and Executive Vice President at EasyVista discussing what he sees as the current challenges in ITSM, along with the need to think about your customers’ customers.

In Summary

In addition, Andy also talks about:

  • Driving innovation
  • How to improve IT maturity
  • A need to improve the ITSM platforms that were built for yesterday’s world
  • The need to go beyond IT

Please note that owing to this interview being filmed live at the Pink Elephant event, there may be some minor volume issues and background noises throughout this video.

About EasyVista

EasyVista, founded in 1988, is a leading global provider of IT Service and Asset Management solutions for the mid to large-sized enterprises.

About Pink Elephant

A global company with a proud and pioneering 30 year history – the world’s #1 supplier of IT Service Management and ITIL® education, conferences and consulting.Visit www.pinkelephant.com for more information about the company, services and products. This video was filmed at the 2014 Pink Elephant Conference. The 19th Annual Pink Elephant International IT Service Management Conference and Exhibition will take place at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, February 15-18 2015. Registration is now open.